Perry: Sheriff, soldier, civic leader and family man

The men and women of The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office reported to Historic City News today that they are saddened by the passing of former Sheriff Neil J. Perry.

Sheriff Perry was born in St Augustine, FL on May 19, 1945 and as a native son, he dedicated his life to his family and our community. He began his law enforcement career as an auxiliary officer with the St. Augustine Police Department in 1968 and in 1974 became a member of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Perry served as a patrol deputy and detective until 1984 when he was elected Sheriff of St Johns County. He was subsequently re-elected four times, serving five terms as Sheriff, retiring in 2004.

He remained a part of the SJSO family as a reserve deputy even after his retirement.

In addition to his law enforcement career, Sheriff Perry also had a very distinguished military career. He joined the Florida Army National Guard in 1962 and during his thirty-nine year career received many accolades, including the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Florida Distinguished Medal, and the Florida Commendation Medal.

He rose through the enlisted and officer ranks, retiring at the rank of Colonel in 2001.

He graduated from St. Augustine High School, St. Johns River Community College, and earned a BA Degree from Nova University. He went on to graduate from the FBI National Academy, the FBI Criminal Justice Executive Institute’s Chief Executive Course, and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

During his tenure as Sheriff, Sheriff Perry served the County and State with distinction as Chairman and Past President of the Florida Sheriffs Association, Chairman of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, Chairman of the Commission on Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, Chairman and Co-founder of the Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute, Chairman of the Northeast Florida Investigative Support Center, President of the Law Enforcement Private Security Council, and Co-chair of the Northeast Florida Regional Domestic Security Task Force.

However, his service was not limited to the law enforcement profession; he was also committed to serving his community through civic involvement. He was a past president of Kiwanis Club, member of the Ashlar Masonic Lodge #98, a recipient of the Outstanding Young Law Enforcement Officer award given by the St. Augustine Jaycees, a recipient of the Lifetime Public Service Award given by the Democratic Woman’s Club, Chairman of the Friends Of Scouting District Dinner, and a recipient of the prestigious Guardian De La Puerta Award given by the City of St. Augustine.

Sheriff Perry’s family was the backbone of his success. Along with his wife Syd, he enjoyed spending time with his children and grandchildren. Additionally, he earned the love and admiration of his “second” family, the employees of the St Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

Many owe the success of their own career to the mentoring and support of Sheriff Perry.

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